UPLAND DIVORCE ATTORNEYS
When you are beginning a divorce, the thought of navigating the dissolution process ahead can be intimidating, especially when coupled with the emotional distress that can come with the end of a marriage. You might ask yourself, “Should I get a Divorce?” You may be concerned about how to begin the process correctly, whether you will be able to emerge from divorce with your property intact, the potential resources you need to expend, or even how to locate the ideal Upland divorce attorney for your unique situation. Fortunately, the key to a successful divorce lies in a critical aspect you can control – adequate preparation.
While it isn’t possible to completely eliminate the stress and emotions that come with the divorce process or to prepare for all the potential hurdles and pitfalls your case may experience along the way, seeking the counsel of a seasoned family law and divorce attorney is crucial to ensuring you are prepared for the months ahead. In Upland and the surrounding communities, the answer is Stephanie J. Squires, Attorney at Law. Once you’ve taken the important first step of choosing our experienced family law firm to guide you through the divorce process, you’ll have access to sound legal advice and advocacy that will work to pursue your best interests – all from one of the top Upland divorce lawyers.
If you’d like more information about aspects unique to your case, contact the Law Office of Stephanie J. Squires today to schedule a consultation. Then, begin preparing yourself for the divorce process ahead by consulting the following general information.
INFORMATION FROM PROMINENT UPLAND DIVORCE AND DISSOLUTION LAWYERS
Each divorce is unique. Thus, the timeline you can expect from your divorce will remain unique to your case, as well. Depending on the factors involved, including child custody, child visitation, child support, the division of assets, spousal support, and other aspects of family law, the Process from start to finish can take several months to several years. However, the general steps you must go through are the same from case to case and differ mostly in how long each step takes to achieve success.
For that reason, the information on this website is not meant to substitute for the representation of a competent family law attorney. It is meant to inform and empower you as to the basic procedures and remedies that are available to you.
A VERY BRIEF STEP BY STEP
Step 1. START YOUR CASE by filing the paperwork.
If you are the one starting the case, and the first to file paperwork, you are the PETITIONER. You will fill out and file with the court clerk at least a SUMMONS (form FL-110) and a PETITION-MARRIAGE/DOMESTIC PARTNERSHIP (form FL-100), and if there are children of the relationship, a DECLARATION UNDER UNIFORM CHILD CUSTODY JURISDICTION AND ENFORCEMENT ACT (form FL-105). All forms can be found at (https://www.courts.ca.gov/forms.htm)
Other documents may be needed depending on your county and circumstances. Take the completed documents and copies to the family law clerk. The clerk will stamp them and assign a CASE NUMBER.
Step 2. Once the initial paperwork has been filed, it must be served upon the other side.
Proper service is very important. Someone 18 or older, not you, serves the RESPONDENT (spouse or domestic partner) with all of the forms from Step 1, plus a blank RESPONSE-MARRIAGE/DOMESTIC PARTNERSHIP (form FL-120), and files with the court a proof of service form, such as PROOF OF SERVICE OF SUMMONS (form FL-115). The PROOF OF SERVICE is very important. Make sure it is filled out and filed correctly.
Now, the RESPONDENT has 30 days to respond.
During this time, you should be filling out the DECLARATION OF DISCLOSURE (FL-140), INCOME AND EXPENSE DECLARATION (form FL-150), SCHEDULE OF ASSETS AND DEBTS (form FL-142), or PROPERTY DECLARATION (form FL-160). These documents are collectively referred to as PDD’s and FDD’s. (Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure and Final Declaration of Disclosure). These completed forms, along with the appropriate attachments and two years of tax returns, are served on the Respondent; the documents themselves are NOT filed with the court. You must file a DECLARATION REGARDING SERVICE OF DECLARATION OF DISCLOSURE (form FL141) with the court but not the other documents. This step must be done within 60 days of filing the Petition. The Respondent must also comply with this requirement. The time frame for the Respondent to serve PDD’s is 60 days after the Response is filed and served.
Step 3. Finishing your case – depends on what the Respondent has done.
If the Respondent does not file a response, you can proceed by DEFAULT.
If Respondent has not filed a Response and there is no written agreement: You must wait at least 30 days from the date the Respondent was served, make sure your PDD’s have been served, and then prepare a proposed JUDGMENT (form FL-180) along with the other needed forms. You will need several copies and self-addressed, stamped envelopes for the clerk. Take the documents to the clerk’s office. Your dissolution/divorce is not final until you receive the signed stamped copies back from the court. You can find more information about this on https://www.courts.ca.gov/1237.htm or https://www.courts.ca.gov/8409.htm.
If Respondent has not filed a Response but you have a written agreement, you will attach the signed and notarized agreement to the proposed JUDGMENT (form FL-180) and the other needed forms. You will need several copies and self-addressed stamped envelopes for the clerk. Take the documents to the clerk’s office. Your dissolution/divorce is not final until you receive the signed stamped copies back from the family law court. You can find more information about this on https://www.courts.ca.gov/1237.htm or https://www.courts.ca.gov/8409.htm.
If the Respondent files a Response, you can proceed in one of two ways.
If Respondent files a Response AND you have a written agreement: Either party must file an APPEARANCE, STIPULATIONS, AND WAIVERS (form FL-130) and the proposed JUDGMENT (form FL-180) with the written agreement attached and the other needed forms. To see what other forms you may need, see www.courts.ca.gov/uncontested.
If a Response is filed, but there is NO agreement: you will have to go to court for a Trial to have the Judge/Commissioner make orders to resolve the issues. See www.courts.ca.gov/contested.
IMPORTANT THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT FAMILY LAW AND DIVORCE
The Summons contains very important Automatic Temporary Restraining Orders (ATROS). It is important to know that upon filing the Summons, you are subject to automatic temporary restraining orders listed on the back.
The ATROS reflects Family Code Section 2040, which becomes effective to the Petitioner the moment the initial documents are signed and filed. They become effective to the Respondent the moment they are served. The automatic temporary restraining orders prohibit many financial activities except those in the ordinary course of business. It is important to consult with a competent family law attorney to make sure you do not inadvertently violate ATROS, which may result in a breach of fiduciary duty and subject the violator to penalties and sanctions.
It is important to file the initial documents correctly. The Petition outlines the relief you are asking for, including issues such as Custody and Support. The court has the power to make decisions and orders regarding your case based upon how the Petition is filled out. If you do not fill out the Petition correctly, you could be jeopardizing your opportunity to receive spousal support or prevent the other side from receiving spouse support. It is important to consult with a competent family law attorney to make sure you have given the court the jurisdiction to make orders regarding everything you need.
It is important to realize that nothing automatically happens in your case. The filing and serving of the initial documents do not automatically result in your divorce being finished.
FAMILY CODE SECTION 2040
(a) In addition to the contents required by Section 412.20 of the Code of Civil Procedure, the summons shall contain a temporary restraining order:
(1) Restraining both parties from removing the minor child or children of the parties, if any, from the state, or from applying for a new or replacement passport for the minor child or children, without the prior written consent of the other party or an order of the court.
(2) Restraining both parties from transferring, encumbering, hypothecating, concealing, or in any way disposing of any property, real or personal, whether community, quasi-community, or separate, without the written consent of the other party or an order of the court, except in the usual course of business or for the necessities of life, and requiring each party to notify the other party of any proposed extraordinary expenditures at least five business days before incurring those expenditures and to account to the court for all extraordinary expenditures made after service of the summons on that party.
Notwithstanding the foregoing, nothing in the restraining order shall preclude a party from using community property, quasi-community property, or the party’s own separate property to pay reasonable attorney’s fees and costs in order to retain legal counsel in the proceeding. A party who uses community property or quasi-community property to pay his or her attorney’s retainer for fees and costs under this provision shall account to the community for the use of the property. A party who uses other property that is subsequently determined to be the separate property of the other party to pay his or her attorney’s retainer for fees and costs under this provision shall account to the other party for the use of the property.
(3) Restraining both parties from cashing, borrowing against, canceling, transferring, disposing of, or changing the beneficiaries of any insurance or other coverage, including life, health, automobile, and disability, held for the benefit of the parties and their child or children for whom support may be ordered.
(4) Restraining both parties from creating a nonprobate transfer or modifying a nonprobate transfer in a manner that affects the disposition of property subject to the transfer, without the written consent of the other party or an order of the court.
(b) Nothing in this section restrains any of the following:
(1) Creation, modification, or revocation of a will.
(2) Revocation of a nonprobate transfer, including a revocable trust, pursuant to the instrument, provided that notice of the change is filed and served on the other party before the change takes effect.
(3) Elimination of a right of survivorship to property, provided that notice of the change is filed and served on the other party before the change takes effect.
(4) Creation of an unfunded revocable or irrevocable trust.
(5) Execution and filing of a disclaimer pursuant to Part 8 (commencing with Section 260) of Division 2 of the Probate Code.
(c) In all actions filed on and after January 1, 1995, the summons shall contain the following notice:
“WARNING: California family law provides that, for purposes of division of property upon dissolution of marriage or legal separation, property acquired by the parties during marriage in joint form is presumed to be community property. If either party to this action should die before the jointly held community property is divided, the language of how title is held in the deed (i.e., joint tenancy, tenants in common, or community property) will be controlling and not the community property presumption. You should consult your attorney if you want the community property presumption to be written into the recorded title to the property.” (d) For the purposes of this section:
(d) For the purposes of this section:
(1) “Nonprobate transfer” means an instrument, other than a will, that makes a transfer of property on death, including a revocable trust, pay on death account in a financial institution, Totten trust, transfer on death registration of personal property, or other instrument of a type described in Section 5000 of the Probate Code.
(2) “Nonprobate transfer” does not include a provision for the transfer of property on death in an insurance policy or other coverage held for the benefit of the parties and their child or children for whom support may be ordered, to the extent that the provision is subject to paragraph (3) of subdivision (a).
(e) The restraining order included in the summons shall include descriptions of the notices required by paragraphs (2) and (3) of subdivision (b).
UPLAND DIVORCE CASE FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
To provide you with as much information regarding the divorce process and hiring an effective, established Upland divorce lawyer as possible, we have addressed some of the most frequently asked questions regarding divorce and dissolution. Please remember, the following should not be construed as legal advice, simply general information to consider as you are beginning the divorce process.
Q: HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE FOR MY DIVORCE TO BECOME FINAL?
A: How long your case takes depends entirely upon you and your former spouse, and the issues involved in your case. Some cases resolve fairly quickly because the parties agree to most issues. Some cases drag on for years because the parties disagree on every issue and the court is involved at each step of the process.
Hiring a respected Upland divorce attorney with a deep knowledge of the divorce process may help your case move forward at an ideal pace. However, it is important to remember that YOUR CASE IS NOT FINAL UNTIL A JUDGMENT IS ENTERED.
Q: IS IT WORTH GETTING A DIVORCE LAWYER?
A: As with any divorce-related question, the final answer depends on your specific situation. Some people find that they agree with their spouse on each and every issue regarding the divorce and can come to terms long before the matter reaches court. However, many others need to attend mediation, participate in lengthy discussions, and be prepared to attend court proceedings to determine a settlement for highly contested terms. Whichever the case, a divorce lawyer is an asset, no matter if your divorce is amicable or contested.
Divorce lawyers have the legal knowledge necessary to assess agreement documents to ensure you’re protected and not setting yourself up for future issues down the road. Your lawyer can also assist you in preparing the documents necessary for divorce and requesting documentation, affidavits, and more from your spouse and other individuals. Perhaps most significantly, your lawyer will fiercely advocate for you during all stages of the process to ensure you are treated fairly, no matter the nature of your case.
Q: WHEN SHOULD I HIRE A DIVORCE ATTORNEY?
A: As mentioned above, there are numerous aspects of your situation that may warrant the hiring of a divorce attorney. For example, if there are children involved, complicated finances, or various properties and real estate holdings, you will benefit from hiring an attorney. Alternatively, if you believe your spouse is being dishonest regarding any of these aspects or is abusive in any way, hire an attorney to advocate for you and keep yourself safe.
Hire your family law and divorce attorney as early in the process as possible, and certainly once it is clear your spouse has obtained their own attorney. This way, you ensure you will receive fair representation during all stages of the divorce process.
Q: IS IT BETTER TO HAVE A MALE OR FEMALE DIVORCE ATTORNEY?
A: There are a plethora of opinions regarding the ideal gender of your divorce attorney. Some experts suggest that utilizing a female attorney is ideal for both men and women since women are stereotypically more empathetic and may be able to garner you more sympathy in court. Others suggest that male attorneys may be viewed more favorably by judges.
However, what truly matters in your search for a qualified divorce attorney is his or her reputation and personality. Attorneys who have built an excellent relationship with the local legal community are respected by their peers and viewed fairly by judges. In addition, any attorney who is a fierce advocate, a compassionate listener, and a fair-minded individual will remain so regardless of gender. Find an attorney with an excellent reputation and with whom you mesh well to achieve the most positive outcome possible for your case.
Q: HOW DO I HIRE A GOOD DIVORCE ATTORNEY?
A: Unless you have previously worked with an Upland family law attorney in the past, you will need to consult several sources to find the best divorce attorney for your needs. Many people rely on personal recommendations from family and friends. These can be a great source since they come trusted and verified by those closest to you. Alternatively, you can search local listings for Upland divorce attorneys.
Once you have a shortlist, research each attorney online. Look for listings and reviews on local pages, social media pages, and national sites like Avvo, LegalZoom, FindLaw, and more. The lawyer’s own website is often a good source of review and case-study information to help in your search. Then, request a consultation to get a proper feel for the type of relationship you will have with your chosen attorney.
FOR EXCELLENT UPLAND DIVORCE REPRESENTATION, CONTACT STEPHANIE J. SQUIRES
Whether you are just beginning the divorce process or have experienced a complicated situation that demands the services of an experienced divorce attorney, you need legal representation to help you navigate the often-complicated procedures ahead. For over 22 years, The Law Office of Stephanie J. Squires has been providing honest, dynamic representation for families throughout Upland and the surrounding areas. Stephanie will work diligently to help you achieve the best possible outcome for your case.
Ensure your Upland divorce lawyer will advocate for you and ensure the protection of the assets and issues most important to you. Contact a compassionate, connected divorce lawyer that is on your side. To discuss your issue, please call (909) 945-6199 or contact Stephanie J. Squires online today to start your free consultation.